I am not a neuroscientist. In fact, I am a wordsmith—a 10-year veteran of the Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising industries. While I know from experience that emotions motivate consumers to buy, the actual science of why this is true is something I overlooked until a short while ago.

The Martec Group’s recent partnership with Emotion Mining Company, Inc. challenged my apathy. It sparked my interest in consumer neuroscience. What is it that makes us want to learn about or buy something? Why does the brain instantaneously place value on some things, and what signals does the brain send to the body to make it react?

The Stimulatory Cocktail of Attraction

neurotransmittersJust as humans are attracted to mates, consumers are enticed by things. The ‘want’ behind both is awfully similar. Both are the result of the same basic chemical reaction within the body. Scientists credit three main neurotransmitters as the causes of attraction: adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. Here are what psychologists dub the three stages of love.

Stage 1: Lust
The initial stage of attraction is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen in both men and women. These hormones spur the emotions behind “the thrill of the chase” whether for another person or a product – how will you get that guy to ask you out or finance that shiny, new Jeep or afford a divine Burberry trench coat?

Stage 2: Attraction
Something caught your eye (or any of the five senses) in Stage One. Now what’s going on in the brain to draw you in closer? Welcome to the brain’s transmittance of the attraction cocktail.

When you see a brand new riding lawn mower or that next-season Marc Jacobs bag, does your heart start to race or palms begin to sweat? That is because your stress response has been activated by the flow of adrenaline.

From here the brain’s pleasure sensor reacts by shooting out dopamine. This chemical triggers a ‘desire and reward’ response, which creates the same effect as taking cocaine (albeit drooling over a product is more socially acceptable).

Finally, the maddeningly obsessive chemical serotonin is diffused. When you find yourself dreaming of that new ride or extravagant accessory too much it is more than likely due to a drop in the level of serotonin. Very low levels of serotonin can even render us ‘insane’.

Stage 3: Attachment
Oxytocin and vasopressin are at the heart of long-term commitments. In a scientific report, “The neuropeptide oxytocin modulates consumer brand relationships,” by Andreas Fürst, Jesko Thron, et al., it is postulated that neurobiologically informed marketing strategies would help companies devise specific branding activities that better serve consumer needs while avoiding potential pitfalls.

Basically, develop marketing and advertising strategies that simulate falling in love and a company could have all the loyal consumers executives could ever hope for.

How Does a Company Know What Love Is?

Well, that’s a bigger discussion, and it will be different for every product and service. Falling in love isn’t science after all … Or, is it?

For more on methodologies like Emotion Mining that track and capture subconscious motivators, please contact us.

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